Website | The Regional Municipality of Durham
Purpose of the project: In September 2017, Amazon announced plans to create a second North American headquarters (HQ2), expected to bring a $5 billion investment and up to 50,000 jobs. The Toronto Global bid included two sites in Durham Region—Ajax Carruthers Creek Business Area and Pickering Innovation Corridor.
Amazon received 238 proposals; some with steep financial incentives/perks and others bestowing gifts. With such strong competition, Durham Region had to stand out—even within the Toronto Region bid. To ensure Amazon was aware that Durham Region is the right choice for a bright future, we created a collaborative website, outlining benefits of investing in Durham. The Durham Region, Canada – Amazon HQ2 Proposal website at durham.ca/amazon outlines why our region is the best choice.
Target Audience: Three audiences were identified for this project. Our primary audience, the Amazon bid review team, was looking for: (1) a metropolitan area with more than one million residents; (2) a stable and business-friendly environment; (3) urban/suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent; and (4) communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.
The secondary audience is companies looking to invest in the region–interested in what the Region has to offer and the potential available.
Finally, the general public is accessing this site for information on the bid, and to learn more about the region/what attracts investment.
Challenges and changes made: One of the biggest challenges for this website was timing. In less than two weeks, the website was developed; content created, and photos sourced, in addition to collaboration with stakeholders, internal meetings, site testing and approvals. This took place in early November, with the site officially launching on November 14, 2017.
Collaborating with our stakeholders meant managing both our expectations and those of the two municipalities hosting the bid sites, to ensure both municipalities received equal coverage and incorporated their feedback while remaining true to our original focus and vision.
The project was also completed with no budget. As the call for bids came in September, budget had already been set for 2017. Esri storybook software was used to create the HQ2 Bid Proposal website, just a few weeks ahead of the launch of our new corporate website.
Another significant challenge we faced was tracking. Using Esri, we were only able to track direct hits to the Region’s website. Therefore, if someone navigated to or found the site through a search engine, we were not able to track their location.
Effectiveness/meeting objectives: The choice to go digital and create a website in response to our Amazon bid was twofold. We could monitor where visitors to the site were located geographically, and we could also loop in Amazon through social media. Plus, only one other Canadian bidder chose to create a website as part of their submission. The site:
(1) Received 128 visits in less than one month via the direct website link.
(2) Engaged Amazon through social media. Engagement was significant through our Twitter (5 tweets, 223 link clicks, 53 likes, 34 Retweets and 13,781 impressions), Facebook (5 posts, 357 link clicks, 214 likes, 65 shares and a reach of 20,495 people), and LinkedIn channels (5 posts, 818 post clicks, 255 likes, 28 shares and 39,646 impressions).
(3) Reach Amazon through the media: initial news release was picked up by 112 U.S. and Canadian outlets, an audience reach of 15.4 million viewers, and was viewed 1,261 times within 48 hours of distribution.